Mickelson Threatens Tiger's No. 1 Ranking

Reigning Masters' champion Phil Mickelson is getting closer to replacing Tiger Woods as the top-ranked player in the world. If "Lefty" wins this week's Players Championship and Woods finishes out of the top-five, Mickelson will ascend to the top for the first time in his career.

The 15-foot birdie putt that Mickelson made on the 72nd hole of the Quail Hollow Championship was worth $130,000, but perhaps more importantly, gave him solo second behind runaway winner Rory McIlroy and put him in position to overtake Woods. Mickelson now has 9.66 points, while Woods, who missed the cut - by a striking eight shots - for only the sixth time in his career, has 11.17 points.

Woods has been No. 1 for the last 258 weeks, and a total of 598 weeks in his career, by far the longest of any other player (Greg Norman is next with 331 weeks).

Mickelson, the only player among this generation's "Big Four" - Woods, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els are the others, is trying to become only the 13th player to be No. 1 since the rankings began in 1986.

"I'm glad that this first tournament went well, because after a couple weeks off after a big high like Augusta, you never know where the game is going to be at," Mickelson said after his round Sunday. "And the way that I played and kept the ball in play and hit good shots, I'm looking forward to next week."

Mickelson also leads the U.S. Ryder Cup points list with 4,768.24900 through the Quail Hollow Championship. Stewart Cink (1,959.06715 points) currently is in the eighth and final automatic qualifying position.